Rocco Valenti (born Umberto Valenti in 1895, died August 11, 1922) was a New York City gangster and prominent member of the Morello crime family during the early 1900s.

Mafia-Camorra War[edit | edit source]

Valenti joined the Neapolitan Navy Street Gang in the early 1910s. On July 20, 1916, Valenti and fellow gang member Nick Sassi helped George "Lefty" Esposito, Tom Pagano, and Giuseppe Verizzano escape after murdering Joe DeMarco and Charles Lombardi.

On September 7, 1916, Valenti was arrested in a local pool hall for carrying a concealed weapon. His arrest came several hours after a shootout that resulted in the deaths of Nicholas Morello and Charles Ubriaco. However, Valenti was later released.

On January 26, 1918, Valenti was arrested in Troy, New York and convicted as an accessory in the DeMarco and Lombardi murders. After serving ten months in prison, Valenti was released in November 1918. He also testified for Charles Giordano during his trial in March 1919.

Shootouts with Masseria[edit | edit source]

By the end of the Mafia-Camorra War in 1918, Valenti was considered one of the best gunmen in New York; he was suspected in at least twenty murders. By the beginning of Prohibition, Valenti had amassed a reputation as one of the top gunmen in the Italian underworld of New York. By this time, being Neapolitan or Sicilian no longer mattered and Valenti now vied for control of the Mafia of Manhattan and waged war against rival Giuseppe "Joe the Boss" Masseria. On May 10, 1922 Valenti and gunman Silva Tagliagamba unsuccessfully ambushed Masseria. With Tagliagamba mortally wounded, both men fled the scene. On August 9, 1922, Valenti attempted to kill Masseria on Second Avenue. Valenti killed both of Masseria's bodyguards and chased Masseria into a local millinery store. However, Masseria managed to escape.

This time Valenti had exceeded his authority; he never asked Morello's permission to hit Masseria the second time and Morello now turned against him. Morello and Masseria soon made a deal to kill Valenti. On August 11, 1922, Valenti went to a meeting arranged by Morello and Masseria at a Twelfth Street restaurant (John's 302e.12th)[1] when Valenti arrived, he was greeted by three of Masseria's gunmen. During the ensuing shootout, an eight-year-old girl and a street cleaner were wounded. As Valenti tried to jump onto a moving taxi to escape, he was shot and killed by gunman and future crime boss Charles "Lucky" Luciano.

References[edit | edit source]

Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Critchley, David. The Origin of Organized Crime: The New York City Mafia, 1891-931. New York, Routledge, 2008.
  • Dash, Mike. The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth of the American Mafia. London, Simon & Schuster, 2009.
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Mafia Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ISBN 0-8160-5694-3

External links[edit | edit source]

Template:Genovese crime family Template:American Mafia

de:Umberto Valenti nl:Rocco Valenti

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